Thursday, March 6, 2008
My analysis of the outcomes in Texas and Ohio is this: things just got a lot uglier for everyone except Republicans.
First, why all the remaining candidates are disheartening — yes, even Obama! There are plenty of good reasons to dislike all of the candidates but I’ll liberally paraphrase (as in not quote) the rundown Cato VP David Boaz gave at a recent talk.
- Clinton: Self-describes as a “government junkie.” Quote #2: “There is no such thing as other people’s children.” Quote #3: “We can talk all we want about freedom and opportunity, about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but what does all that mean to a mother or father who can’t take a sick child to the doctor?” ‘Nuff said.
- Obama: In case the message isn’t clear enough, it’s seems he’s running as the change candidate. Since his positions only differ from Clinton’s at the margins, being the change candidate apparently means he’s the only one capable of transcending political divisiveness — you know, those meddlesome debates about what’s right for the country — and actually implementing the policies Clinton merely scares us by talking about.
- McCain: Says “[t]here’s only one commander-in-chief of the United States” which is false — there are zero commanders-in-chief of the United States. Also says he “doesn’t really understand economics.” Both might be forgiveable if he wasn’t running for the most powerful office in the world on a platform of fewer civil liberties for all Americas and several policies that look rather disastrous to people who do understand economics.
Now, in an absolute sense I think things look pretty ugly for humanity at this point — but perhaps you don’t, so here’s why in a relative sense things look good for Republicans in November: by prolonging the race for the Democratic nomination, they’ve completely changed the landscape of the general campaign.
The GOP has less money this year, but that no longer matters because McCain can sit back and conserve while Clinton and Obama empty their war chests against one another. Think a Clinton-Obama ticket (or an Obama-Clinton ticket) looks powerful? Kiss it goodbye, because it’s hard to accept a VP invitation when you’re still running for president. We all know the public is tired of George W. Bush, but let’s see how the public feels about Clinton and Obama after watching them bicker nonstop from now to August.
McCain, left for dead three months ago, somehow bounced back to win the GOP nomination. He’s the only candidate who ever polled within range of leading Democrats in head-to-head polls. Also, the Democrats control Congress, which isn’t new news but is still worth mentioning. The only possible argument Republicans could make about their congressional record is that the Democrats couldn’t do any better, and lo and behold, the most recent Congress has actually been more inept. Oh, and McCain now gets to remind Democrats that their candidate was hand chosen by a group of 800 party elites — some of whom made the call to disenfranchise the good people of Michigan and Florida.
Don’t get me wrong; the public still hates George W. Bush a lot. But pretty much everyone once thought the general election would be a slam dunk for Democrats, and the longer this primary drags on the less obvious that scenario becomes. See Andrew Sullivan and Megan McArdle for more on this subject.
Think this race is about what’s best for the country? If this year’s campaign proves anything, it’s that once somebody gets this close to being the most powerful human on the planet they’ll throw their party — and, by extension, their supporters — under a bus to get elected. The object of power is power, my friends.